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John Higley: "Elite Theory in Political Sociology"

John Higley is emeritus professor of government and sociology at the University of Texas in Austin. In his paper entitled “Elite Theory in Political Sociology”, Higley focuses on elite theory by examining the general relationships between elites and politics.
The article opens with a paragraph which summarizes how the founders of elite theory, Gaetano Mosca (1858–1941), Vilfred Pareto (1848–1923), and Robert Michels (1876–1936) defined the most fundamental concepts on elites. The importance and influence of these three men on the development of elite theory is also reflected in William Genieys’ book “Sociologie politique des élites”, whose first three chapters are dedicated to the discussion of their work. While the works by Mosca, Pareto, and Michels contain slightly different definitions on how elites function and how they exert their power, Higley highlights the instance that all of them saw the inescapable existence of elites as the reason why a truly democratic society would rema…

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